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Women’s Business Center at BHSU recognized with regional excellence award

 
 The South Dakota Center for Enterprise Opportunity (SD CEO) located at Black Hills State University and director Helen Merriman recently earned the 2013 Women's Business Center of Excellence Award from the Small Business Administration. The SD CEO was also named the Regional Award Winner and will represent Region VIII. Pictured from left to right, Dr. Priscilla Romkema, Dean of the College of Business and Natural Sciences; Merriman; BHSU President Kay Schallenkamp; and Dr. Rod Custer, provost and vice president of academic affairs.
South Dakota Center for Enterprise Opportunity (SD CEO) located at Black Hills State University and director Helen Merriman recently earned the 2013 Women’s Business Center of Excellence Award from the Small Business Administration.

SD CEO was also named the Regional Award Winner and will represent Region VIII which includes Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming during National Small Business Week next month. SD CEO was recognized for its excellence and innovation in assisting women entrepreneurs by providing a wide variety of training and counseling.

“I am totally humbled by this recognition and still digesting the impact and meaning as I know personally the WBC directors of the other states, and believe me, they are also doing amazing work in their efforts to enhance entrepreneurship for women,” Merriman said.

The SD CEO is one of more than 100 Women’s Business Centers throughout the nation and the only one in South Dakota. In 2009, the University established the SD CEO. The mission of the center is to provide comprehensive training and business assistance, support and counseling for aspiring and established entrepreneurs on a statewide basis. Specific target audiences include women, women veterans, Native Americans, youth entrepreneurs and the socially and economically disadvantaged.

“I am so appreciative of the opportunity to have the SD CEO hosted by BHSU and especially the significant opportunities for collaboration with the Dean of the College of Business and Natural Sciences (CBNS), Dr. Priscilla Romkema; my colleagues at the CBNS; and all of our community sponsors, presenters and exhibitors,” Merriman said. “The response from the statewide participants has been extremely supportive and is indeed an affirmation that the SD Women’s Business Center is fulfilling the mission to provide opportunities for aspiring and current entrepreneurs to acquire the knowledge, skills and resources necessary to support, nurture and advocate the development of their prosperous business.”

Since 2009, the SD CEO has exceeded all of the goals set, according to Michele Arends, economic development specialist for the SBA. Each year the number of participants continues to grow from 535 attendees and clients in the first grant period to more than 1,200 in the third year.

SD CEO created a monthly Women in Networking (WIN) organization, an annual Celebrating Women in Business Luncheon, and the South Dakota Women’s Business Conference, the organization’s signature event. SD CEO also sponsors several other regular events including QuickBooks training, mobile media marketing workshops and other business seminars.

“The SD CEO will continue to be diligent in meeting those needs, and we look forward to continuing to surpass our goals to foster new business growth and positively retain and expand existing businesses,” Merriman said. “Small business is America’s most powerful engine of opportunity and economic growth and as a member of the SBA resource team, we will continue to assist women, men, minorities, veterans and youth achieve their entrepreneurial goals.”

Merriman has served as the SD CEO founding director since November 2009 and last year was named honorary commander for the 28th Contracting Squadron at Ellsworth Air Force Base.

To learn more about the SD CEO, visit www.BHSU.edu/SDCEO or call (605) 642-6435.

The SD CEO is partially funded by the U.S. Small Business Administration. The support given by the U.S. Small Business Administration through such funding does not constitute an expressed or implied endorsement of any of the components or participants’ opinions, products or services. SD CEO operates under Cooperative Agreement SBAHQ-11-W-0038. Reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities will be made if requested at least two weeks in advance.

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